Monday, August 22, 2011

Ready, Set, Prepare!

School is about to start for many kids in the United States.  We are busy grabbing school supply lists, getting new school clothes, and prepping our kids to make their academic mark this year.  I’m sure we want our tweens and teens to be successful in school, sports, and/or other educational pursuits. 
I want to remind everyone that as parent or someone that cares about a tween or teen, there is something else they need to be prepared for-dating.  Many parents tell me that they don’t have to worry about that yet as their kids are young, so they pass up the topic for a later date if not forever. 

Wake UP! According to a 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation study, 46% of high school students reported that they had already had sex.  High school usually starts in 9th grade, aka 14-15 years old.  This same study also stated that, one in ten high school students reported having experienced dating violence.  Additionally, 7%of students have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse, with females (11%) more likely than males (5%) to report this experience. 

Teaching kids about Dating Violence doesn’t make them go out and commit it.  It prepares our teens to make healthy, safe, and educated decisions about what they want out of a relationship.  We can prepare our teens to decide how to have a healthy relationship by teaching them what that looks like.  If teens learn to make smart relationship decisions in junior high and high school, then all their relationships during adolescence and adulthood will likely be healthy and safe also.  Teens can learn by the knowledge they have instead of hard lessons they had to learn by first being a victim of dating violence. 

Learning the differences between a healthy relationship and a dating violence relationship is just as important as learning to read and write.  These are all life-skills necessary to be a productive and happy contributor to society.  I cannot stress enough that preparedness is much more desirable to a lesson learned the hard way.  You may not want to admit that your 13 year old is thinking about dating and sex but believe me, with the constant barrage of media and pop culture images and peer pressure being thrown in their faces, they most certainly are.  Wouldn’t you rather be proactive in their education rather than reactionary to their news of pregnancy, disease, physical harm or death due to an unhealthy relationship? 

If you want to prepare your tween or teen for dating and having safe and healthy relationships contact me.  I have various presentations and workshops available for parents and students of all ages.  Together we can teach our teens and save their lives.

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